Student Research

Fabrication of Gecko-inspired Dry Adhesives

Gecko feet exhibit adhesive capabilities due to nanoscale fiber arrays that magnify the Van der Waals forces acting between the hairs and an underlying surface. Synthetic adhesives inspired by this natural gecko material that reproduce its releasable and non-specific adhesion properties are in development but are difficult to fabricate due to the scale and intricacy of the structures required. We fabricated gecko-inspired dry adhesives using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a nontoxic polymer that is easy to mold at the micro level as an uncured liquid. The silicon templates in which the PDMS was cured were manufactured using a microsphere lithography process, which involves the deposition of a dense packing of microspheres which is subsequently etched. This procedure is cost-effective and allows us to gain greater, and more repeatable, control over the resulting sample's characteristics as well as producing reusable molds. We developed an instrumentation platform using the LabVIEW development environment to measure the adhesive forces acting on the resulting samples.

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